Fear of the Bar!, 0516 ALBJ, 77 The Alabama Lawyer 196 (2016)

Position:Vol. 77 3 Pg. 196

Fear of the Bar!

Vol. 77 No. 3 Pg. 196

Alabama Bar Lawyer

May, 2016

The following article was submitted anonymously by a successful Alabama attorney and a former Alabama Lawyer Assistance Program (ALAP) participant. This man's life has been changed for the better simply because he finally became willing to make a call to the ALAP and sincerely reach out for help. He currently serves on our ALAP committee and is passionate about being of service to other Alabama attorneys who may be suffering in silence. One of our primary goals is to increase the number of attorneys we can assist before the inevitably worsening negative consequences of undiagnosed or untreated depression or a substance use disorder result in a formal complaint to the bar or involvement with law enforcement. Our program is voluntary and completely confidential. If you find yourself connecting with the message in this article, L encourage you to give us a call (334-517-2238) so that we can discuss your concerns and see if we can provide assistance.

—Robert B. Thornhill, MS, LPC, Alabama Lawyer Assistance Program director I do not know when I started the descent to my personal and emotional "bottom."! had never thought about being at the bottom of anything. I had always been a high achiever and rarely found a challenge I could not overcome. I graduated near the top of my class in law school, and as a result, I started a great job with a prominent law firm. I had a nice house and was beginning to start a family. In other words, I had achieved all of my life goals up to that point. Yet, even though I "had it all," I was personally miserable.

My personal unhappiness made no sense to me. I was frustrated because someone with so many blessings in life should not feel so lost. At times I just felt paralyzed by a non-specific fear of the world around me. Eventually, after a few appointments with a psychologist and a counselor, I learned that I was probably suffering from depression and anxiety. Even with the knowledge of a potential diagnosis, I did not continue my treatment with either of these professionals. In retrospect, I was still ashamed of my situation and I was probably not ready to do the work necessary to begin to change it.

Instead of professional treatment, I decided to try different career paths in order to find peace and happiness. Eventually I found myself practicing law as a solo practitioner. Even though...

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